MORE than 5,100 people around South Yorkshire were caught watching television without a licence during the first six months of 2011.
The figures have been revealed by TV Licensing, the organisation which collects the licence fee.
The numbers show there were more than 2,000 licence dodgers detected in Sheffield, over 1,000 in Rotherham, 840 in Barnsley, and more than 1,100 in Doncaster.
The licence evaders are among almost 197,000 people caught dodging the payment across the UK during the first half of this year.
But the average evasion rate remains at a low of just over five per cent, meaning almost 95 per cent of properties are correctly licensed.
Tim Downs, TV Licensing spokesperson for the North, said: “While the vast majority of people in the UK pay their licence fee, to be fair to those who pay, we have to be firm with those who try to get away without paying.
“We take TV licence evasion very seriously and we will not hesitate to prosecute if people continue to break the law.
“We would always prefer people to buy a TV licence than risk prosecution and we give people every opportunity to pay.
“However, we do understand some people may find it difficult to pay their licence fee in one go, which is why we offer numerous ways to spread the cost, including a weekly cash payment plan, a savings card and monthly Direct Debit scheme, which can all be set up very quickly online.
“TV Licensing launched a new advertising campaign in May to remind people about the different ways to pay for their licence.”
A colour TV licence currently costs £145.50 and is required by anyone watching or recording TV programmes as they are shown on TV, whether they are using a TV set, computer, or any other equipment.
Anyone watching television illegally risks prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.